Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were devastating storms, causing massive amounts of property damage. Unfortunately for active kids, playgrounds were not spared from flood waters and damaging winds. By thoroughly inspecting affected playgrounds, repairs can be made quickly and effectively, allowing children to play safely once more. Here are some tips for conducting an inspection of playground equipment that may have been damaged by recent storms.
Inspecting Ground cover:
- Start by removing any hazards like branches or debris that may have blown or washed in during the storm.
- Once the ground has been cleared, rinse any man-made safety surfacing to remove salt water, dangerous chemicals, or bacteria that may have collected while the surface was submerged. If you have bonded rubber (also known as pour-in-place) as safety surfacing, avoid using a pressure washer, which could lead to further damage.
- If you have turf or pour-in-place safety surfacing, closely examine the safety surface for any rips or tears. These will need to be quickly repaired to prevent further damage.
- Check synthetic turf to see if it looks wrinkled. If so, call the company who installed it. This is a sign that it will need to be repaired or replaced.
- If the grounds contain Engineered Wood Fiber (wood chips) check it for the correct depth. Loose material frequently floats away during flooding situations, so there is a good chance it will need to be topped off.
- Check the footing of playground equipment for erosion. If erosion is noticeable and significant, the playground could be unsafe for children, and possibly needs to be closed, and the manufacturer contacted as soon as possible about repairs.
- Inspect all roto-molded plastic components like slides, climbers, and panels. Anyplace floodwater has collected must be thoroughly drained; usually be accomplished by drilling a small hole into the underside of a component (preferably in an unused area).
- Examine all the nuts, bolts, and moving parts of the equipment, checking to see if any parts are broken, loose, or missing. Rinse anything that may be clogged with sand or silt, and lubricate any moving parts which seem stiff or creaky.
- Wash all equipment with a pressure washer. Flood waters often contain hazardous chemicals and sewage, and the salt water from hurricanes is particularly corrosive.
A thorough inspection of storm damage is the first step towards restoring a safe and functional playground for the kids in your organization or community. In addition, restoring your park and playgrounds quickly maybe the very thing children, and their families, need after traumas such as flooding or natural disasters.
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